China Australia trade row leaves Indian seafarers stranded India News
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NEW DELHI: Ritesh Kumar is second engineer on MV Skopelos I (a vessel registered to Valletta, Malta and owned and operated by Seascout, Greece). His vessel has been in anchorage at Bayuquan, China, since September loaded with Australian coal. Since Beijing has banned Australian coal imports, his ship, together with many others are stranded off varied Chinese ports.
“Our vessel has nine Indian crew members (among other nationalities) including the master. Some of us have served on the ship for 10-14 months, well beyond our contractual periods. Alongside our vessel, there are over 70 vessels at various Chinese ports, serving as a floating prison to multiple other Indian seafarers.”
His vessel isn’t on prime of thoughts of the Indian authorities. They are monitoring two different vessels — an Indian flag ship MV Jag Anand which is anchored close to Jingtang port in Hebei province since June 13 with 23 Indians as crew on board. A second ship, MV Anastasia, which has 16 Indians as its crew, is on anchorage close to Caofeidian port since September 20. But there are various different ships flying below flags of different nations with Indian crew members manning them.
The Chinese authorities is refusing to permit the ships to dump their cargo. The authorities can also be refusing to allow crew adjustments. As a end result many crew members have been on board their ships for over 16 months, which isn’t allowed by worldwide maritime guidelines.
Ritesh mentioned, “We haven’t been able to take a shore leave at the ports we have been to due to the pandemic. Communication with families has been limited. This is causing inhuman working environments and mental trauma for the seafarers.” Amitabh Kumar, director-general delivery, mentioned, that they had spoken to the Chinese maritime authority, however had solely obtained one response from a deputy minister.
“The trouble is, they can’t go to any other port, unless expressly allowed by the Chinese government. Since their cargo is intended for a Chinese buyer, if these vessels leave they will be arrested,” Kumar mentioned. “Every week we speak to owners, unions and seafarers, to try and do what we can.”
The MEA is now engaged in a diplomatic train to get the Chinese authorities to permit a crew change, “but it’s complicated due to the Chinese travel and entry restrictions” mentioned officers concerned. After many rounds of conversations they mentioned, the Chinese “have outlined a procedure (for crew change) but the rules are designed to frustrate the procedure”.
The MEA spokesperson mentioned, “The Chinese authorities have conveyed that on account of various Covid-related curbs imposed by local authorities, crew change is not being permitted from these ports.” The International Maritime Organisation the apex world physique which ought to have intervened has been made conscious of the disaster. “But they’re not doing much, because its China,” mentioned one official.
Incidentally, China allowed three Korean vessels carrying comparable cargo to berth of their ports, although that they had are available in after the Indian vessels.
This is being attributed to China’s infinitely higher relations with Korea than India.Meanwhile, China’s ban on Australian coal could also be having its inevitable consequence for China — energy outages and rationing of energy in sure provinces like Zhejiang and Hunan have been reported. But China stays decided to make Australia pay for its opposition to China in current months. India-China relations too are at their lowest ebb, which can imply that the rising humanitarian disaster involving seafarers stranded off China’s ports may drag on.

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